This was a fascinating tale about the study of snails. The chapters are short, concise, and informative. There is also a human element. Most reviewersThis was a fascinating tale about the study of snails. The chapters are short, concise, and informative. There is also a human element. Most reviewers refer to it was an emotional bond between a sick author and a pet snail; but the human element is even more basic, just care and concern for the subject, something frequently lacking in studies. Each chapter provides delightful new insights into snails. I especially like the part that snails have over 2,000 teeth. Although the bit about 1/3 of all snails can shoot love darts is also fascinating.
That being said, there is a downside to the book. There is so little information about the author or the author's malady. A brief chapter at the end simply says it is a common disease in Europe that has not crossed the pond. If she suffered for 3-7 years, I would think there would be a bit more evidence. Other problems is a lack of information about why the author was in the wilds of New England - far away from everyone she knew. Who was the mysterious caretaker? How did she survive? She exhausted herself rolling over in bed; but was somehow able to browse through large scientific tomes on snails. Something does not sound quite right. While I thought the book was delightful, fascinating, and heart-warming, I never abandoned my initial impression that this was a graduate student who was responding to professor criticism to slow down in her writing and add more depth and detail to her writings. ...more
This short little book is rather easy to read and digest. The content is a very brief overview of Europe 1814-1848. May tries to demonstrate how EuropThis short little book is rather easy to read and digest. The content is a very brief overview of Europe 1814-1848. May tries to demonstrate how Europe was at the same time revolutionary and ultra conservative, going so far as to embrace religion. There is surprisingly little on Prince Metternich. A biographical chapter races through his rise to power effectively leaving the reader the impression that Metternich, scion of a bourgeois family, got a couple of lucky breaks that set him on his path. Obviously, this is due to the brevity of the book.
Metternich was most famous for building coalitions to make sure that no one country could threaten everyone else. May provides the darker side of Metternich by arguing that his skill was in pushing for increasingly centralized and nationalistic government repressing the under classes. The argument is partly convincing in that Austrian troops crushed revolutionary movements in Italian and German states. The book goes on to discuss similar reforms and counter reforms throughout Europe and Turkey.
The writing style is a bit difficult to follow in places. May is clearly an academic writing for a lay audience. The result is a certain awkwardness that May tries to balance with many breaks and subsections. Rarely does he cite foreign passages, nor does he talk down to the audience; but there is an element of aloofness as though May was trying to make an academic argument instead of providing a general overview. Readers are probably better informed if they read about the German social uprisings of the 1840s. More detail is available and less summary....more
I may be too harsh in rating this book so poorly. As an American I am unfamiliar with a great deal of the characters and events mentioned in the book.I may be too harsh in rating this book so poorly. As an American I am unfamiliar with a great deal of the characters and events mentioned in the book. Apart from the entertaining story of Napoleon, there was very little I could identify. Like many novelty books that introduce curious and obscure historical snippets, this book follows the basic format of paragraph to one-page entries. It assumes the reader has cursory knowledge of the subject matter. I wonder if Brits have basic knowledge of Queen Victoria's prime ministers. Having so little knowledge of these people and their context that I cared not for any scandal. I was almost grateful for the sports section so that I could relate to something....more
Barricade Books has carved a niche for itself in true crime. A late addition to their lineup includes Gangsters of Harlem. Although the appendices areBarricade Books has carved a niche for itself in true crime. A late addition to their lineup includes Gangsters of Harlem. Although the appendices are full of references and footnotes, they are not connected to specific passages, just a general works cited per chapter. This is probably a compromise between the author trying to add some academic credentials and the publisher making the books more user-friendly to casual readers.
The scope of the book is cast widely. There were many gangsters in Harlem 1900-2000. The result is more attention to some figures than others. In this case, the author clearly is more interested in black gangsters than other gangsters. This preference crops up again in Black Gangsters of Chicago. This book would be better titled Black Gangsters of Harlem. The few chapters on other gangsters are convoluted and inaccurate. In one place Chepesiuk identifies Dutch Schultz as a key figure in Joe Masseria's gang. Similarly, the general lack of dates and references made the chapters covering 1900-1920 more convoluted and overall inaccurate. Chepesiuk does cover the Black gangsters seemingly well. There is much less information in monograph form concerning these characters, so there is little to compare. The once source he continually references is Joey by Donald Goodard; but that book carefully avoids names, dates, and places. It is possible that he gleamed a lot from Easy Money by Donald Goodard, one of the few books that discusses the black drug syndicates of the 1970s. It is one of the few books mentioning the Atlanta mob convention among black wholesalers.
Overall, the writing is a bit engaging. Chepesiuk selected the most colorful characters to discuss. He even concludes with a chapter on blue gangsters - police. Clever and informative. The chapters are frequently broken up with no clear purpose or transition. The new subsection seemingly rolls from the previous section. So these breaks are a distraction. Most of my review is based on the poor treatment concerning the non-Black gangsters which demonstrates shoddy research and awkward citations. I assume some of these problems have slipped into other chapters. ...more
One of the most incredible crimes I have learned about. Of course, the crime is the catalyst for several Hollywood blockbusters; but this guy did it wOne of the most incredible crimes I have learned about. Of course, the crime is the catalyst for several Hollywood blockbusters; but this guy did it without explosions and gratuitous action. Fascinating story....more